North Forsyth eclipsed its 2014 win total with a nail-biting 20-14 victory over Habersham Central on Friday night at Coal Mountain.
North (2-7, 2-6) set the tone at the beginning of the game with a first play sack of Habersham’s (1-8, 1-7) quarterback Cole Wilbanks. North forced an immediate three-and-out and struck first on a 1-yard touchdown run from Cody Dwyer to grab a 7-0 lead. North utilized its committee of running backs with success on the first drive and for the rest of the night, just as head coach Jason Galt and staff had planned.
“We felt like physically we could match up. They have been playing a bunch of spread teams,” said Galt. “Well a team like us that likes to run the football and be physical, we felt our matchup was pretty good against them.”
Dwyer shined all night, seeing a majority or reps at running back, but he also was featured as a wildcat quarterback. After North’s defense forced a turnover on downs, North used up 5:35 of clock on a 12-play drive that stretched 73 yards. Dwyer accounted for 44 of those yards and capped off the drive with a 5-yard run to make the score 14-0.
North’s defense controlled the game all night. They allowed 49 points to Centennial last week but were able to bounce back by only allowing 242 total yards this week.
“Our defense got stops when we needed to,” said Galt, matter-of-factly. “It was a total team effort.”
North opened up the second half looking to put the game out of reach for Habersham. Behind big rushes from Dwyer and Jeffery Rice, North marched down the field again to get into scoring range. A false start penalty on North killed the momentum of the drive. North had to settle for a Jose Boyzo-Medina 26-yard field goal to go up 17-7.
In the fourth quarter, Habersham drew the game within three behind star running back Michael Babers. Babers finished with 131 rushing yards and both Habersham touchdowns.
North had just under five minutes to kill in order to secure their second win of the year. They had success moving the ball on the drive, but penalties would end up costing them seven points again after losing a critical 15 yards on an unsportsmanlike conduct call. However, North quarterback Jacob Bailey managed to get Habersham to jump offsides twice, allowing the clock to run down.
North ended the game with a sack, its third of the game, but most important of the season. It played multiple games this season in which the final score could have gone its way, especially in losses the past two weeks to Johns Creek (17-14) and Centennial (49-39) that extended its losing streak to seven games.
But Friday the team was relieved one went in its favor.
“For the program [this win] it’s a relief, an exhale,” Galt said. “Tonight we found a way to get over that hump.”